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On May 10, 1995, Keith Lockhart, the 20th Conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, opened his very first Boston Pops season, leading a concert featuring guests Sylvia McNair, Mandy Patinkin, and Doc Severinsen, and repertoire ranging from Wagner to “Charlie on the MTA.” He was only 35 years old—the same age as Arthur Fiedler was when he became Boston Pops Conductor in 1930—and was dubbed “The Kid” by longtime Pops Associate Conductor Harry Ellis Dickson. The press coverage from the time of Keith’s appointment to the position in February 1995 was extensive, commenting on not only his musical talent but also his good looks and enviable head of hair, as well as the challenge of following in the illustrious footsteps of John Williams and Arthur Fiedler. But this baby boomer, born in 1959, came to the position with musical chops, a remarkable work ethic, and a deep appreciation for both the institution of the Pops and its audience. His varied conducting experience encompassed both the symphonic and pops repertoire, as well as performances in concert halls and on recordings; he had most recently served as Associate Conductor of both the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops, and made his Boston Pops debut as a guest conductor in 1993, just two years before he was appointed Conductor.
Over the next 25 years, with seemingly endless energy, Keith Lockhart, who holds the Julian and Eunice Cohen Boston Pops Conductor chair, would lead the Boston Pops in more than 2,000 concerts, in every imaginable setting—from hospitals to the Super Bowl—and collaborate with nearly 300 guest artists, drawn from the worlds of classical and popular music, rock, jazz, sports, politics, Broadway, and Hollywood.
Although acclaimed around the world, the Boston Pops—sometimes called “America’s Orchestra”—remains a treasured local fixture, as beloved as the region’s sports teams and historic landmarks. Its reputation has been acknowledged in popular culture, recently in a memorable episode of the animated television series “The Simpsons.” The family decided to take a “hate-cation” to Boston—because of Homer’s resentment of the “Boston Americans” football team and its fans—and ultimately fell in love with the city that has “a Symphony AND a Pops.” Through the years, Keith Lockhart has embraced Boston and in return, Boston has embraced him.
Most of the concerts led by Keith Lockhart take place in Symphony Hall, itself a registered historic landmark, during the orchestra’s spring and holiday seasons. He has also led annual Boston Pops appearances at Tanglewood, Pops concerts at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall, 45 national tours to more than 150 cities in 38 states, and four international tours to Japan and Korea. He and the Pops have made 80 television shows, including 38 new programs for the PBS series Evening at Pops, and participated in such high-profile sporting events as Super Bowl XXXVI, the 2008 NBA finals, the 2013 Boston Red Sox Ring Ceremony, and the Red Sox Opening Day game at Fenway Park in 2009. The annual July 4 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular draws a live audience of over half a million to the Charles River Esplanade, and millions more view it on television or live webcast. During Keith’s tenure, the July 4 event was televised by a major national network for the first time. In 2017, with Eaton Vance as presenting sponsor and Bloomberg as the exclusive media partner, the Pops organization presented its first self-produced Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, which was broadcast on Bloomberg Television and all its media outlets. Both companies are continuing their commitments to the event.
Lockhart-led albums on the RCA Victor/BMG Classics label include Runnin’ Wild: The Boston Pops Play Glenn Miller, American Visions, The Celtic Album (Grammy-nominated, the first Boston Pops recording to be so honored), Holiday Pops, A Splash of Pops, The Latin Album (Latin Grammy-nominated), Encore!, and My Favorite Things: A Richard Rodgers Celebration. Recent releases on the in-house label, Boston Pops Recordings, include The Red Sox Album, A Boston Pops Christmas—Live from Symphony Hall, and The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers, which was a Boston Pops commission premiered in 2010 during the orchestra’s 125th season. Released at the beginning of the 2017 Pops season, Lights, Camera...Music! Six Decades of John Williams features Keith Lockhart leading the Boston Pops in a collection of Williams compositions from the 1960s onward, including some rarities.
Keith’s personal affinity for American music has led him to program full-length Broadway musicals and invite stars of the musical theater world to perform with the Pops. He has worked closely with hundreds of talented young musicians, including Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center, college students from the Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music, and area high school students. He introduced the PopSearch talent competition and the innovative JazzFest and EdgeFest series, featuring prominent jazz and indie artists performing with the Pops. Well aware of the influence of technology on our lives and the concert experience, he was the driving force behind “Pops on Demand,” allowing audience members to vote on their cell phones in such categories as “Favorite Disney Song” and “Favorite John Williams Theme” and see the results in real time. The Lockhart/Pops album Oscar & Tony was the basis of a Pops internet TV broadcast, the first such program offered by a symphony orchestra. In recent seasons, he and the Pops have presented a number of films in concert, both classic (The Wizard of Oz) and contemporary (Home Alone). He is dedicated to building and updating the Boston Pops library of music, which contains over 5,000 arrangements.
With a renewed commitment to bringing the Boston Pops into the Boston community and to important civic events, Keith Lockhart and the Pops have appeared at gubernatorial and mayoral inauguration ceremonies; the holiday tree lighting in Boston’s Public Garden; sporting events including Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, and Celtics games, and the memorial service for the Boston Marathon bombing victims. He has led free concerts in such major public spaces as the Boston Common and Franklin Park, and each holiday season he brings musicians of the Pops to play for patients at Children’s Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. He is a recipient of the 2017 Commonwealth Awards for Achievement, the state’s highest honor in the arts, humanities, and sciences presented by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
More recently Keith and the Pops initiated a conducting competition for students aged 18 to 30 during the 2018 season-long celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s centennial. As part of a 2019 Pops tour concert in Fort Lauderdale, Keith invited student survivors from the shooting at Margery Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland to perform a song, composed by two of them, honoring the resilience of their community. Back at Symphony Hall, both the spring and holiday Pops seasons in 2019 included a sensory-friendly concert designed for families with children or adults diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or sensory sensitivities.
Keith recently completed a decade-long relationship with the BBC Concert Orchestra, first as principal conductor and then as the orchestra's chief guest conductor. During his tenure as principal conductor, he led the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II. He continues to serve as artistic director of the Brevard Music Center Summer Institute and Festival in North Carolina. Prior to his BBC appointment, he spent eleven years as music director of the Utah Symphony, which he led at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. He has appeared as a guest conductor with virtually every major symphonic ensemble in North America, as well as many prestigious orchestras in Asia and Europe. Before coming to Boston, he was the associate conductor of both the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops orchestras, as well as music director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, Keith Lockhart began his musical studies with piano lessons at the age of seven. He holds degrees from Furman University and Carnegie Mellon University, and honorary doctorates from several American universities.
Having the gift of being able to communicate with people of all ages, Keith Lockhart readily conveys his passion for the music he loves, which covers a wide spectrum. His programming reflects this breadth of interest and he is completely at ease articulating his professional and personal perspectives. Above all, he believes in and appreciates the experience that only the Boston Pops can provide—an atmosphere of music-making that is both fun and entertaining. He has called the Pops “the great outreach arm of the classical music industry. There’s no orchestra like it in this country or in the world that plays such a wide variety of music at such a high level.”
For more on Keith Lockhart, visit keithlockhart.com or bostonpops.org.
Keith Lockhart, conductor
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In February 2007, Melissa Etheridge celebrated a career milestone with a victory in the "Best Song" category at the Academy® Awards for "I Need to Wake Up," written for the Al Gore documentary on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth. Over the course of her more than two decades as a performer and songwriter, Etheridge has shown herself to be an artist who has never allowed "inconvenient truths" to keep her down. Earlier in her recording career, Etheridge acknowledged her sexual orientation when it was considered less than prudent to do so. In October 2004, Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer, a health battle that, with her typical tenacity, she won. Despite losing her hair from chemotherapy, Etheridge appeared on the 2005 Grammy® telecast to sing "Piece of My Heart" in tribute to Janis Joplin. By doing so she gave hope to many women afflicted with the disease.
Born in Leavenworth, Kansas, Melissa Etheridge picked up the guitar at the age of eight and began playing in local bands in her teens. After completing high school, Etheridge was accepted as a student at Boston's Berklee College of Music, but left after only one year to make her way as a performer in Los Angeles. Her bluesy vocal style and riveting stage presence began earning Etheridge a strong following. Legend has it that in a chance encounter at a small club in Long Beach with music industry legend and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell she was signed on the spot leading Blackwell to confess that he felt "The future of Rock and Roll has a female face".
Melissa's first album, Melissa Etheridge (1988), was a critically-acclaimed debut that led to an invitation to sing on the 1989 Grammy® Awards broadcast. For several years, her popularity built around such memorable originals as "Bring Me Some Water," "No Souvenirs" and "Ain't It Heavy," for which she won a Grammy® in 1992. Etheridge hit her commercial and artistic stride with her fourth album, Yes I Am (1993). The collection featured the massive hits, "I'm the Only One" and "Come to My Window," a searing song of longing that brought Etheridge her second Grammy® Award for Best Female Rock Performance. In 1995, Etheridge issued her highest charting album, Your Little Secret, which was distinguished by the hit single, "I Want to Come Over." Her astounding success that year led to Etheridge receiving the Songwriter of the Year honor at the ASCAP Pop Awards in 1996.
Melissa continued to write, record, and tour throughout the '90s and into the new millennium, releasing Skin (2001) and the upbeat Lucky (2004) along with her DVDs Live And Alone (2002) and Lucky Live (2004). 2005 marked the release of Greatest Hits: The Road Less Traveled, which includes "I Run for Life," commissioned by Ford Cares as part of their cancer initiative in support of The Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure. The album was recently re-released in an Eco-pak, to include Melissa's Oscar® winning song "I Need To Wake Up." In April 2007, Melissa Etheridge received the distinguished ASCAP Founders Award and released her ninth studio album, The Awakening, selected by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of their Top 50 Albums of 2007. In 2009, Melissa released her 10th studio album, Fearless Love, to a Top 10 Billboard debut. 2011 was an exciting year for Melissa. She made her Broadway debut as St. Jimmy in Green Day's rock opera, American Idiot, and received her Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2012, she released her most recent album 4th St. Feeling. Melissa will perform sold out shows throughout Europe, Australia, and North America. When Melissa is not on tour, she records her syndicated Melissa Etheridge Radio Show for daily broadcast on stations throughout the US and Canada.
Melissa Etheridge, singer-songwriter
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Multi-platinum selling pop singer-songwriter Andy Grammer is all
about inspiring and empowering the world by communicating his
truths through his music. The first male pop star in a decade since
John Mayer to reach the Top 10 at Adult Pop Radio on his first two
singles, Grammer has taken the music world by storm with a
succession of anthemic pop hits, 6 of which are certified gold or
better. His debut album featured the platinum singles "Keep Your
Head Up" and "Fine By Me." Andy's second album, Magazines or
Novels, featured the triple platinum infectious smash hit "Honey,
I'm Good," which was one of the best-selling songs of 2015, and the
certified gold anthem "Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah)." His brand
new single "Give Love" is the follow up to the certified platinum
streaming phenomenon "Fresh Eyes" with over 250 million
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Tony- and Grammy Award-winning performer Leslie Odom, Jr., has taken the entertainment world by storm across a variety of media—spanning Broadway, television, film, and music. His self-titled debut album was partly funded by a Kickstarter campaign and was released in 2014 by Borderlight Entertainment, Inc. In 2016, the album was re-released with additional material and charted at #1 on the Billboard Jazz Chart. In winter 2017, a deluxe edition of his holiday album Simply Christmas hit #1 on the iTunes and Billboard Jazz Charts. Best known for his breakout role as Aaron Burr in the smash hit Broadway musical Hamilton, Mr. Odom, Jr., received a 2015 Drama Desk Award nomination and won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance. He also won a Grammy Award as a principal soloist on the original cast recording. He made his Broadway debut in Rent and starred in the stage adaption of Leap of Faith. Off-Broadway he appeared in Venice and the original staging of Hamilton, both at the Public Theater. He also starred opposite Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivo in a 2014 City Center Encores! revival of Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick . . . Boom! Mr. Odom, Jr., was most recently seen on the big screen starring alongside Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Dame Judi Dench in Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express. Previous film work includes the 2012 historical drama Red Tails. On the small screen, he starred in the cult-classic musical drama series Smash. He has played recurring roles on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Person of Interest, and CSI: Miami, and has made guest appearances on such shows as The Good Wife, Gotham, and House of Lies. In 2018, Leslie Odom, Jr., released his book, Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning. Written in the style of a commencement speech, the book brings together what Odom, Jr., has learned in life so far, tapping into the universal themes of starting something new, following your passions, discovering your potential, and surrounding yourself with the right people.
Leslie Odom, Jr., special guest
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Dubbed “the last leading man” by the New York Times, two-time Tony Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell has enjoyed a career that spans Broadway, television, film, and concert appearances with the country’s finest conductors and orchestras. He received Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards for his star turn in Kiss Me, Kate. He also has Tony-nominated performances in Man of La Mancha, August Wilson’s King Hedley II, and Ragtime. Other notable Broadway shows include Kiss of the Spider Woman, Jelly’s Last Jam, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
Last season he made a long-awaited return to Broadway in Shuffle Along, a new musical written and directed by George C. Wolf with choreography by Savion Glover. He received his most recent Tony Award, the Isabelle Stevenson special Tony for his work as Chairman of the Board or the Actor’s Fund, a charity that helps anyone who has made a living in show business and the performing arts in times of need, crisis or transition. 2016 also marks the year where he was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.
An extremely versatile singer, Stokes has performed at venues spanning jazz, opera, pops, country, and the musical theater world. He has worked with John Williams, Keith Lockhart, Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Slatkin, the late Marvin Hamlisch, The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Big Band, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Muppets. Stokes has made multiple appearances at Carnegie Hall beginning with his debut with the San Francisco Symphony through his televised performance in South Pacific opposite Reba McEntire to his sold-out solo concert, which he continues to perform throughout the U.S. He has been invited twice to perform at the White House and has performed for Presidents Clinton and Obama. His musical talent has extended to the present day as producer, arranger, and orchestrator on his own albums, including his latest recording, Simply Broadway, featuring the Tony-winning singer accompanied by solo piano. Stokes has appeared on more than 20 albums and is currently working on his next album, Plays With Music to be released this year.
His extensive screen credits began with a 7-year stint on Trapper John, MD and have continued with memorable appearances on everything from PBS’ Great Performances to Frasier, Glee, Jumping the Broom, and his most recent recurring roles on Mr. Robot, Madam Secretary, The Path and The Blacklist.
Brian Stokes Mitchell
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The Concert Band & Soldiers' Chorus are the oldest and
largest of The U.S. Army Field Band's performing components.
Founded in 1946 and 1957 respectively, these two ensembles combine
to present joint concerts on their national tours. They have
performed in all 50 states and 30 foreign countries for audiences
totaling hundreds of millions. The 65-member Concert Band and
29-member Soldiers' Chorus perform regularly in some of the most
famous concert halls in the world, and just as often in the
humblest auditoriums in the smallest of communities. The joining of
these two ensembles allows them to offer unparalleled versatility
of programming, ranging from orchestral masterworks and operatic
arias to Sousa marches, jazz classics, and Broadway musicals. The
band and chorus also perform independently, and have recently
shared the stage with such ensembles as the Boston Pops, the
Cincinnati Pops, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the National
Symphony Orchestra. In addition to their national tours, formal
concerts, chamber recitals, and educational outreach, members of
the Concert Band & Soldiers' Chorus frequently represent the
Army at formal and ceremonial functions, including the Presidential
Inaugural Parade, presidential funerals, the Army AllAmerican Bowl,
and diplomatic efforts overseas.
The U.S. Army Field Band